The Ethiopian Ambassador to Rwanda, Lulit Zewdie, has shared with Rwandans the opportunities available in her country in the areas of investment and tourism, saying that both countries have many areas of common interest.
The Embassy of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Rwanda was officially opened in 2017.
“I am the first resident Ambassador of Ethiopia to Rwanda. We believe that significant achievement has been done to further strengthen the already existing friendly relations between our two countries and peoples in all areas of comment interest,” she said during an event held on March 13.
She said that Ethiopia has a vision to place Ethiopia amongst the top 100 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Report.
“In relation to the investment sector, Ethiopia has indeed come a long way in forging an enabling environment to create a productive and competitive private sector, to attract foreign direct investments to allow more space for private sector investment,” she said.
More than 80 important reforms, she noted, have been implemented since the national initiative to improve Ethiopia’s ease of doing business was launched two years ago.
In addition to improving ease of doing business in the country as part of wider economic reforms, she said, a remarkable decision has been passed by her government to partially privatize some of the major public enterprises.
These include railways, telecommunications, hydropower and Sugar Corporations among others.
Ethiopia is also building the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam which after completion could generate 6500 MW of electricity.
According to Gebresilasie Tadese, the Business and Tourism Officer at the Ethiopian embassy in Kigali, while Ethiopian investors have invested in Rwanda in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, services and so on, Rwandans can also invest in multiple sectors in Ethiopia.
“Strategic priority areas have been identified for foreign direct investment attraction and export promotion. These include agro-processing, horticulture, tourism, ICT, textile and apparel, leather and leather products,” he said.
The leather sector has potential, he said, considering that Ethiopia has more than 53 million cattle, 25.5 million sheep and 24.1 million goat populations yet only 50% of hides and skins potential are being utilized.
“With this, investors can invest in tanning of hides and skins up to finished level, manufacturing of luggage (such as handbags), saddle and harness items, footwear, and garments and Integrated tanning and manufacturing activities,” he said.
More than 12 industrial parks are functional in the Horn of Africa country to facilitate investors, Tadese said.
He said that there is 100% exemption from the payment of import customs duties and other taxes levied on imports is granted to an investor to import all investment capital goods such as plant machinery and equipment.
Ethiopian products and services destined for export are exempt from the payment of any export tax and other taxes levied on exports, while any income derived from an approved new manufacturing and agro-industry investment or investment made in agriculture shall be exempted from the payment of income tax he disclosed.
“Business enterprises that suffer losses during the tax holiday period can carry forward such losses for half of the income tax exemption period following the expiry of the exemption period,” he noted.
In the tourism sector, Ethiopia has been included among Forbes ‘Rising Stars in Travel’, which feature seven countries that have potential to become major tourist destinations in a post-Covid world.
Ethiopia has currently an estimated 112.1 million population.
In 2017, Rwanda and Ethiopia signed 11 bilateral agreements.
The agreements are in the areas of extradition treaty, mutual legal assistance, communication, information and media, youth and sports, tourism and health, education, culture, cooperation in prisons and correctional services, gender, women and children as well as water resources management.
Rwanda exports to Ethiopia were US$9.74 million in 2019, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.